haider

Objectivist in Kuwait

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Hello, fine people.

I've been visiting Objectivist Living every once in a while for a few years now, but would like to contribute more this summer (given a recent career change, I now have the whole summer off... WOHOO!).

A little about me: I lived in London (UK) for 11 years. During my university years I was a Muslim extremist, inspired by the writings of Ayatollah Khomeini. I loved Iran and loathed the US. My cousin introduced me to Ayn Rand and my knee-jerk reaction was to condemn her and her wicked ways. But I was earnest in my pursuit of truth so I gave her writings much time and attention, especially since her reasoning was sound, and she echoed some of my own observations and answered some questions I was struggling with.

After returning to Kuwait I began to accept more and more of Objectivism. I now feel lonely in the crowd, since I can't identify much with the people and the culture I'm in. I still appreciate a lot of Islam's teachings (given how I understand them), but I don't appreciate the suspension of reason and the blind submission many Muslims regard as marks of piety.

I would like to advocate a rational approach to religion in my region, and to help people better understand philosophy and science, and the contributions they have to offer to the world.

Having experienced two conflicting (though somewhat overlapping) worldviews, I can clearly see where misunderstandings arise between the Western and Islamic worlds, and I would like to help bridge this cultural divide.

So I'll hopefully be posting in the Mideast forum section, as well as dabble in some of the philosophical threads. :smile:

I'm also interested in learning and education, and how Objectivist epistemology is a healthy foundation to build on for better understanding the world.

I'd like to propose that a new section be added to the forum for Learning & Education, where we help each other improve our learning skills and ways to contribute to the education system. I'm not sure where to make such a proposal, though, so I'd appreciate any input on this.

I look forward to some engaging discussions and learning opportunities. :smile:

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Re-welcome to OL Haider.

Polymathy seems to have quite a list of folks who fall under that category...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_who_have_been_called_%22polymaths%22

Adam

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Be cautious around enthusiastic Muslims.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Welcome, Haider!

A most fascinating journey for you.

I look forward to hearing and exchanging more.

Tony

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Haider.

I'm running at the moment, but I want to stop and give you a quick and warm welcome to OL.

So...

Welcome.

:)

btw - We have some learning and education stuff in the psychology and parenting sections. If you want to do something in this are, those places are where to do it right now.

More later.

Michael

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Thank you all for the warm welcome. :smile:

I'm interested. What are your thoughts about the existence of Israel?

There's a lot to say about this issue, and it's a fairly controversial one. You could've waited until I settled into the forum. :tongue:

My short answer: I don't have a problem with Israel's existence, but find many of its policies unjust towards the Palestinians.

My slightly longer answer (which is by no means comprehensive): During my fundie days I wouldn't acknowledge the existence of Israel as a legitimate state. I'd always put its name in double quotes, as though there's no such thing as Israel. I didn't have a problem with Jews, but I hated Israelis and Zionists (supporters of Israel). Mind you, Ayatollah Khomeini wasn't an anti-Semite. In many of his speeches and writings he says that he wouldn't accept anyone lifting a finger against the Jews in Iran, but opposes the support of Israel, regardless of a person's religion or ethnicity. There is a lot of anti-Semitism in the Arab/Muslim world, but not all criticisms of Israel have anti-Semitic roots.

I remember avoiding an Israeli man at university, even though he seemed very friendly towards Muslims. And as luck would have it, I ended up working with him during a summer placement. He turned out to be a really decent guy. Not the kind of devil I made all Israelis out to be. And he was a second-generation Israeli. What's his fault for being an Israeli? Why did he have to be driven out of the home he was born and brought up in? To him, Israel was his home as much as it was to the Palestinians.

Now let's think about it from the Palestinian point of view: You have Arab and Jewish inhabitants in Palestine. Britain approves of the creation of a homeland for Jews in the land and the institution of a state exclusive to (or in favor of) Jews. Jews are brought in from all over the world to settle in a land that Arabs also lived in (the whole "land without a people for a people without a land" is clearly bogus, as the present conflict demonstrates).

I'm not entirely sure how forced the expulsion of Arabs in Palestine was, but it's safe to say that they didn't enjoy the same privileges granted to foreign Jews, and that many Arabs lost their land, property and lives.

For the Arabs, in general, and the Palestinians, in particular, it makes no sense to trust Western powers or the state of Israel.

I personally believe that what matters most is the political system of a country and the extent to which it protects the individual rights of all its inhabitants, equally. I don't see Israel doing that, and it should. But I would trust an Islamist group like Hamas a lot less, since the concept of individual rights doesn't exist in their worldview. Or, at least, it's somewhere in the background that they might point to on occasion (side note: the concept of property rights is very prominent in Sharia law, but Islamists tend to pick and choose what parts of Sharia law is important). Politically, the Israeli system is a far more evolved institution than Arab political systems, but it needs to abandon its Jewish bias.

And I believe that Arabs, Jews and all those interested in the conflict need to share their thoughts on the matter and notice what issues they're focusing on and how they can see the conflict from the other party's point of view. Palestinians associate Israel to daily discrimination, humiliation at checkpoints, the Deir Yassin massacre, limited movement, etc. whereas Israelis see the Palestinians as being a security threat and recall all the wars initiated by the Arabs against them. It's key that both sides start looking eye to eye. They already project the same hostility towards each other. It's time they recognize how much they have in common and what they can work to build together.

Be cautious around enthusiastic Muslims.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Enthusiasm isn't the trait that frightens me. :tongue:

Haider.

btw - We have some learning and education stuff in the psychology and parenting sections. If you want to do something in this are, those places are where to do it right now.

Thanks, Michael. It seems that the Epistemology section is the most relevant to the kinds of discussions I'd like to have (on concept formation, the nature of language, what constitutes an essential, philosophies that cripple human cognition, etc.). But I believe a Learning & Education section would be a valuable place for the application of Objectivist epistemology to learning, and other tips that could be useful (what to eat, learning environment, flipped classroom, etc).

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Re-welcome to OL Haider.

Polymathy seems to have quite a list of folks who fall under that category...

http://en.wikipedia....led_"polymaths"

Adam

Adam, that's what I'm aiming for. :smile:

I'm actually working on a project to advocate a holistic approach to learning called The Polymath Project (it's been idle for a while, though, but I'm hoping to revive it this summer).

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I'm running at the moment, but I want to stop and give you a quick and warm welcome to OL.

So...

Welcome.

:)

The two of you ought to be like peas in a pod! I infer this from your most perceptually evident shared trait: perpetually itchy chins.

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I'm running at the moment, but I want to stop and give you a quick and warm welcome to OL.

So...

Welcome.

:smile:

The two of you ought to be like peas in a pod! I infer this from your most perceptually evident shared trait: perpetually itchy chins.

I'm mirroring Michael. Hope that builds some sort of rapport with him. :D

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Thank you all for the warm welcome. :smile:

I'm interested. What are your thoughts about the existence of Israel?

There's a lot to say about this issue, and it's a fairly controversial one. You could've waited until I settled into the forum. :tongue:

My short answer: I don't have a problem with Israel's existence, but find many of its policies unjust towards the Palestinians.

My slightly longer answer (which is by no means comprehensive): During my fundie days I wouldn't acknowledge the existence of Israel as a legitimate state. I'd always put its name in double quotes, as though there's no such thing as Israel. I didn't have a problem with Jews, but I hated Israelis and Zionists (supporters of Israel). Mind you, Ayatollah Khomeini wasn't an anti-Semite. In many of his speeches and writings he says that he wouldn't accept anyone lifting a finger against the Jews in Iran, but opposes the support of Israel, regardless of a person's religion or ethnicity. There is a lot of anti-Semitism in the Arab/Muslim world, but not all criticisms of Israel have anti-Semitic roots.

I remember avoiding an Israeli man at university, even though he seemed very friendly towards Muslims. And as luck would have it, I ended up working with him during a summer placement. He turned out to be a really decent guy. Not the kind of devil I made all Israelis out to be. And he was a second-generation Israeli. What's his fault for being an Israeli? Why did he have to be driven out of the home he was born and brought up in? To him, Israel was his home as much as it was to the Palestinians.

Now let's think about it from the Palestinian point of view: You have Arab and Jewish inhabitants in Palestine. Britain approves of the creation of a homeland for Jews in the land and the institution of a state exclusive to (or in favor of) Jews. Jews are brought in from all over the world to settle in a land that Arabs also lived in (the whole "land without a people for a people without a land" is clearly bogus, as the present conflict demonstrates).

I'm not entirely sure how forced the expulsion of Arabs in Palestine was, but it's safe to say that they didn't enjoy the same privileges granted to foreign Jews, and that many Arabs lost their land, property and lives.

For the Arabs, in general, and the Palestinians, in particular, it makes no sense to trust Western powers or the state of Israel.

I personally believe that what matters most is the political system of a country and the extent to which it protects the individual rights of all its inhabitants, equally. I don't see Israel doing that, and it should. But I would trust an Islamist group like Hamas a lot less, since the concept of individual rights doesn't exist in their worldview. Or, at least, it's somewhere in the background that they might point to on occasion (side note: the concept of property rights is very prominent in Sharia law, but Islamists tend to pick and choose what parts of Sharia law is important). Politically, the Israeli system is a far more evolved institution than Arab political systems, but it needs to abandon its Jewish bias.

And I believe that Arabs, Jews and all those interested in the conflict need to share their thoughts on the matter and notice what issues they're focusing on and how they can see the conflict from the other party's point of view. Palestinians associate Israel to daily discrimination, humiliation at checkpoints, the Deir Yassin massacre, limited movement, etc. whereas Israelis see the Palestinians as being a security threat and recall all the wars initiated by the Arabs against them. It's key that both sides start looking eye to eye. They already project the same hostility towards each other. It's time they recognize how much they have in common and what they can work to build together.

Ah, sorry to be so blunt. Thank you for your very well thought out reply. There is much new information for me I need to think about. I have looked up the Deir Yassin massacre for the first time, but only the account on wikipedia. I will grant that fundamentalists (read "extremists") of any religion, Christian, Jew, Muslim, can advocate and carry out acts that are outrageous to anyone lacking their fundamentalist viewpoint. This leads me to explain my perception of a basic difference between the Israeli's and their Muslim neighbors: a Jewish extremist is soundly condemned and censored by Jewish moderates; an Islamic extremist can carry out atrocities unbelievable in the modern era in the name of his religion and meet only silence in some cases, cheering in the streets in others. Being that I firmly believe that all peoples everywhere are on average good people, only interested in working hard and trying to make a secure future for themselves and their families, I have found it hard to understand this silence and this cheering. My tentative explanation personally, is the average person in a Muslim country suffers from a sort of "Stockholm" syndrome, they are being held hostage by a minority of extremists who would not hesitate to chop off the heads of any of their fellow countryman who tried to censor them. I think ultimately the extremists will lose as they always have. By fits and starts humanity progresses. I am optimistic for the future but perhaps not in my lifetime. I have worked with men from Iran and Afghanistan, I found them to be good people, I hope they thought the same of me. I lived with a fellow from Pakistan for a year when I was in my twenties, likewise, he was a hard working, congenial and honest man. I worked with a Muslim women for a few years, she was in sales, I in engineering. We collaborated from time to time to provide information to customers about the product. I asked her once about her religion because I was completely ignorant of it. She told me her day was very scripted by her religion. She knew what she was going to do in every phase of her day and she took great comfort in doing these things. She celebrated her religion for the peace of mind she had and valued in her life. I found her reply to be interesting. I've rarely had a day that went exactly as planned. I hope you don't think me too naive. I look forward to your contributions.

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Mikee, I too know and work w/ many Muslims. My best friend is an Ismaili Muslim, and we are so similar. \asim is from Tanzania, totally different backstory, but we connect because common individuality trumps tradition, every time.

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Careful, don't be ground up between two cultures. Not just Christian and Muslim, but between Muslims. I think you don't know how exposed you might be. Otherwise, you seem very knowledgable and sophisticated and think for yourself very well. You are educating yourself and have much further to go because you start on a different base than, say, I did. It's the objective American context I have which is not necessarily flattering to Americans because America is an idea and the United States is a fact the world experiences every day these days which is not too well appreciated--by Americans.

--Brant

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I will grant that fundamentalists (read "extremists") of any religion, Christian, Jew, Muslim, can advocate and carry out acts that are outrageous to anyone lacking their fundamentalist viewpoint. This leads me to explain my perception of a basic difference between the Israeli's and their Muslim neighbors: a Jewish extremist is soundly condemned and censored by Jewish moderates; an Islamic extremist can carry out atrocities unbelievable in the modern era in the name of his religion and meet only silence in some cases, cheering in the streets in others.

You're absolutely right. Which is why I oppose the ridiculous claims that Islam has been "hijacked" by the extremists. There is widespread acceptance of - if not support for - extremist ideas within the Muslim mainstream. Martyrdom is prized even by the most liberal of Muslims. Many Muslims would never tolerate living in a theocracy, but they wouldn't oppose Sharia law, because to them it seems like they are opposing God's law.

I would say that many, many Muslims don't know the basics of their religion, or carry contradictory fragments of it in their psyche, and they lack the ability to connect the pieces in a sensible way. Instead they resort to justifications and rationalizations. Innocent civilians are killed in 9/11, and you have Muslims thinking: "This is for all the Muslims the US has killed." Well, what about the Prophet teaching his followers not to attack civilians or damage their dwellings? That's no longer an important teaching. But perhaps it can be useful in inter-faith events or for proselytization.

I don't think you're too naive. We understand the world by the experiences we have. I hope our encounter will be fruitful in better understanding Islam and the Muslim world. :smile:

Careful, don't be ground up between two cultures. Not just Christian and Muslim, but between Muslims. I think you don't know how exposed you might be. Otherwise, you seem very knowledgable and sophisticated and think for yourself very well. You are educating yourself and have much further to go because you start on a different base than, say, I did. It's the objective American context I have which is not necessarily flattering to Americans because America is an idea and the United States is a fact the world experiences every day these days which is not too well appreciated--by Americans.

--Brant

Many of my relatives and acquaintances don't respond favorably to my ideas, especially at first. But after several discussions and time to think about what I say, they eventually appreciate my points of view. It's risky speaking against the conventional wisdom of a conservative culture, but it has to be done.

"Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes."

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السلام عليكم

Standing up for ones principles is one of the key acts that make an individual worthy of respect.

Adam

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"Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes."

Haider,

To add to this thought, there is a top business guru I like a lot named Dan Sullivan. In one of his courses, he told the story of when he was in basic training in the Marines. He said it was pretty boring until they got to the live grenade practice. That suddenly got everybody's attention. A small mistake with a hand grenade can be fatal.

Before they went to the field, the sergeant asked which of the recruits present were afraid. Only a few raised their hands. He said those are the ones he would trust, not the rest. If anyone didn't have sense enough to be afraid of a live grenade, they wouldn't have sense in other situations.

Then he defined courage for the recruits. Sullivan thinks this is the best description he has heard so far and I have to agree.

He said being afraid for real is pissing your pants. Having courage--true courage--is doing what you have to do with wet pants.

Good on you that you speak up.

Be careful.

I know I don't need to say that, but I'm saying it anyway.

I wish I had learned that sergeant's lesson when I was younger. I would have been one of those recruits who did not raise his hand--and I have paid a high price for that reckless attitude over the years.

Michael

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Correct Michael. I was lucky and did learn that lesson early on.

Being afraid of a really dangerous event or device is being human, what you do with the fear is what makes you a valuable human.

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السلام عليكم

Standing up for ones principles is one of the key acts that make an individual worthy of respect.

Adam

وعليكم السلام

I totally agree. :wink:

Be careful.

I know I don't need to say that, but I'm saying it anyway.

I wish I had learned that sergeant's lesson when I was younger. I would have been one of those recruits who did not raise his hand--and I have paid a high price for that reckless attitude over the years.

Michael

I'm a tad reckless at times. My brother keeps warning me not to provoke people, especially in beliefs they hold dear to them. I don't notice that I'm being provocative. I just see it as making observations. I'm glad most of my discussions have been with friends and relatives. Otherwise I may not have survived to post this message. :tongue:

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No offense Haider, but I agree with BaalChatzaf. Islam has shown its colors of nihilism qua theocracy and as men of reason we have a natural suspicion of those who admit to being islamists converted to the other end of the spectrum. Albeit if you are who you say you are and are genuine in your desire to pursue reason and liberty, then welcome.

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No offense Haider, but I agree with BaalChatzaf. Islam has shown its colors of nihilism qua theocracy

Arbitrary assertion. You assume Islam is a collective.

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No offense Haider, but I agree with BaalChatzaf. Islam has shown its colors of nihilism qua theocracy

Arbitrary assertion. You assume Islam is a collective.

It's a collective of collectives just as monotheistic religions are an even bigger collective of collectives. Then, the ultimate collective of such collectives: religion.

--Brant

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No offense Haider, but I agree with BaalChatzaf. Islam has shown its colors of nihilism qua theocracy

Arbitrary assertion. You assume Islam is a collective.

It's a collective of collectives just as monotheistic religions are an even bigger collective of collectives. Then, the ultimate collective of such collectives: religion.

.

--Brant

It is a collection of beliefs, professed by billions of individuals in different ways.

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